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The Key, Difficulties and Directions of Agricultural Supply-Side Reform

Public number: Hui Sannong Source: Time: 2020-02-21 01:34:23

Millennium Tongzhou vitality north stream

Legend of Yun Xi

I. Problems facing agricultural supply-side reform

At the end of 2015, the Central Rural Working Conference first proposed “agricultural supply-side structural reforms”, emphasizing that the focus of the reforms was “destocking, cost reduction, and shortcomings”. Specifically, the first is to speed up the digestion of excessive agricultural product inventories and accelerate the processing and transformation of grain. The second is through the development of moderate scale operations, reducing the unreasonable use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and developing social services. The purpose is to expand agricultural benefits, reduce production costs and increase competitiveness through division of labor. The third is to strengthen the weak links in agricultural supply such as agricultural infrastructure and increase the production of agricultural products in short supply on the market.

It is necessary to discuss the relationship between the three priorities. In fact, the three reform priorities are interrelated, and we must clarify the "key issues" between them, that is, to clarify the logic behind them. Why are agricultural supplies in stock? Inverted prices due to protected price acquisitions and financial subsidies. Why is there a subsidy? Because the cost of agricultural production is too high and farmers' income is weak, the government has to take action. Once the government grants subsidies, the price of agricultural products will be higher, and the higher domestic agricultural product prices will lead to imports, and imports will further increase inventory. Why is it costly? Because there are shortcomings. Therefore, the key point of reform is to make up for shortcomings. 短板究竟在哪里呢? A further question is, where is the short board? This can be discussed in several ways.

First, "three increases together." China's grain output has increased for 12 consecutive years starting from 2% for 3 years, from 861.4 billion kg in 2% for 3 years to 12,429 billion kg in 2015, an increase of more than 38%. According to the calculation results of relevant departments, in fact, China's total food demand for one year is 128% jin to 129% jin, which shows that China's food is not enough, and the shortfall is about 5% jin. However, in 2015, the total amount of various types of grain imports was close to 25% kilograms, which indicates that we have imported more, which has led to our stock of 2% billion kilograms a year. China's grain output, imports, and stocks have shown a "three-volume increase" phenomenon. It is worth noting that China's warehouses store a large number of agricultural products that are about to expire or are constantly depreciating and of poor quality. Therefore, "destocking" is facing obvious market constraints.

Second, "three books go up." According to statistics, in recent years, domestic prices of major agricultural products such as wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans have been 30% -50% higher than international prices, and individual varieties have reached 60%. The price is so high, of course, it will curb demand, while foreign agricultural product prices So cheap, of course, it will stimulate imports. Inverted prices have led to a “dual market structure” that separates the domestic market from the import market, which in turn has become the source of market distortions. Why is the price upside down? Because of subsidies. From 2008 to 2014, the minimum purchase price of rice increased for 7 consecutive years, and the cumulative price increase was: early indica rice 93%, mid-late rice indica 92%, and japonica rice 107%; minimum wheat purchase price increased for 6 consecutive years, and the cumulative price increase reached Wheat 64%, red wheat and mixed wheat 71%. However, such a price increase still cannot keep up with its cost increase. From 1990 to 2014, the average output value of China's three grains (rice, wheat, and corn) at current value increased by 13.6% per year, but the average cost per mu increased by 15.5%. Among them, the average annual increase in material and service costs is 12.2%, the average annual increase in labor costs is 16.9%, and the average annual increase in land costs is 24.6%. This seems to convey a meaning that China is even more lacking in land, because land prices are rising faster and faster.

表明中国农业供给侧面临的问题,并不是这两年才出现的,而是长期积累的结果。 It can be found that from the "three-volume increase" of output, imports, and inventory to the "three-volume rise" of material costs, labor costs, and land costs, it shows that the problems facing China's agricultural supply side are not the last two years. What emerges is the result of long-term accumulation.

Third, the comparison of agricultural product costs. On the one hand, in terms of cost structure, from 1990 to 2014, the proportion of the average material and service costs of the three types of grain (rice, wheat, and jade at cost) decreased from 58.3% to 39.1%, and the proportion of labor costs increased from 35.1%. At 41.8%, the proportion of land costs rose rapidly from 6.6% to 19.1%. From the perspective of growth rate, the fastest increase in land costs.

In addition, compared with American agriculture, the average cost per hectare of agricultural products in China and the cost per hectare, or the cost per unit of production, greatly surpass that of the United States, and some are even more than twice as high. Therefore, the top priority of China's agricultural supply-side reform is to solve the shortcomings that lead to excessive costs.

The key point: Analysis of the causes of high costs

Agricultural costs are a function of several issues. Among them, the most important variable is related to the pattern of small-scale decentralized farmer operation.

1. Diseconomies of scale lead to high costs

The questionnaire survey of 2,704 farm households in 9 provinces and regions of the country in 2015 showed that the average cultivated land per household was only 5.77 mu, scattered into at least 5 small plots. It is such a small-scale and fine-grained operating pattern that makes the farmers' operating costs extremely high and there is almost no room for profit . It should be said that the small-scale and decentralized operation pattern is an important cause of the high cost of our agriculture. However, a more serious dilemma faced by this pattern is the consolidation of small farmers. As we all know, China has encouraged the transfer of farmland by farmers since the 1984 Central Document No. 1. During this period, a series of inductive policies have been introduced to encourage the transfer of farmland. After almost 30 years of policy efforts, the result is that China ’s land decentralization operation pattern has not only undergone fundamental changes, but has worsened.

2. Labor costs increase labor costs

In 2014, China ’s rural migrant labor force accounted for 40.6% of the agricultural labor force engaged in the primary industry and only 38.7%. According to the 2011 Shanghai University of Finance and Economics' sample survey of 931 villages across the country, 39.8% of the labor force is over 51 years old, and the proportion of women is as high as 69.89%. This shows that nearly 28% of the labor force engaged in agriculture is "old women". Think of a country with a population of over one billion people. Food security depends on a group of elderly people, relying on a group of "old women". This is indeed a serious social problem. You can also see that the daily wages of agricultural workers are generally higher than 80-100 yuan, and the highest one can reach 150 yuan. According to statistics, in the past ten years or so, labor costs in the agricultural sector have grown at an average annual rate of 16.9%. In the past, in the rural areas, when the farm was busy, workers were usually replaced by workers. Now farmers require daily remuneration.

3. Rising land costs caused by agricultural land transfer

The increase in land costs caused by the transfer of agricultural land is an important new factor, and there is an increasing trend, which will become a normal state. From 1990 to 2014, among the cost of grain (rice, wheat, and corn) in China, land cost was the fastest growing, with an average annual increase of 24.6%. We speculate that this cost will continue to rise. The sample questionnaire of farmers in 9 provinces and autonomous regions of the country in 2015 (2704 sample households) shows that the average price of agricultural land transfer has reached 971.5 yuan per mu.

The mainstream literature believes that the confirmation of agricultural land rights is conducive to agricultural land transfer. 经调查未确权农户实际参与农地流转比例是21.64%,确权之后有所提高,农户参与率提高到22.25%。 However, our research shows that the confirmation of the right to farmland may further increase the cost of rents and inhibit the transfer of farmland. The proportion of farmers who have not confirmed the right to actually participate in the transfer of farmland after investigation is 21.64%. The rate increased to 22.25%. However, in terms of the proportion of the farmland actually transferred out, the proportion of the area of the farmland transferred out by unconfirmed farmers is 28.17%, compared with 13.09% of the confirmed farmers. The probability will decrease. Not only that, the turnover rent will increase significantly. The actual sub-leasing fee is 397.56 yuan when the right is not confirmed, and 525.59 yuan after the right is confirmed. This is just the fact rent, the willing rent is more obvious. For unconfirmed farmers, ask “the sub-lease money that they are willing to accept after assuming the right is confirmed”, and for farmers who have confirmed the rights, directly ask for the rent. As a result, the willingness to sublet the rent of the unconfirmed farmers after assuming the right is 776 yuan, and the willing rent of the confirmed farmers is 1,997.74 yuan. It can be seen that the increase in rent caused by the confirmation of the right actually reduces the speed of land transfer.

4. Inefficiency due to insufficient division of labor

There are many options for agricultural scale operation. Improving economies of scale by expanding the scale of land is only one of the options for obtaining economies of scale in agriculture. Theoretical research on division of labor shows that division of labor and specialization is the key to the realization of increasing returns. The essence of economies of scale lies in division of labor and specialization.

From the perspective of the evolution of agricultural scale management in the world, when Japan ’s slow progress in directly expanding the scale of land management has been valued and supported by the “passive” division of production mode, that is, it does not directly touch the land property rights of small farmers, but encourages farmers to In the past, the production links such as farming, plant protection, and harvesting that were undertaken by themselves were outsourced to external professional service organizations, which aggregated the service needs of many small farmers into social needs, which not only formed the service scale requirements that matched the professional service organizations, but also improved farmers. Division of labor efficiency. A survey of ranchers in the western United States found that, in order to achieve economies of scale, 91% of ranchers chose to outsource heifer feeding to surrounding farmers in the process of scale expansion; Spanish citrus farmers will The production links of pruning, shaping, pesticide application and fertilization are outsourced to professional service teams. Similarly, in the relatively developed areas of our country, the outsourcing of agricultural production links is becoming more common, and the practice of the agricultural machinery rental service market proves that in small-scale land It can also realize large-scale and mechanized production.

The problem is that there is an obvious problem of inadequate division of labor in China's farmers. The sample questionnaire survey conducted by the research group on farmers in Guangdong in 2013 showed that the division of labor is manifested in two aspects. The first is the lack of participation in horizontal division of labor. Horizontal division of labor is expressed as specialization. We refer to farmers who produce only one product as "fully specialized farmers." Among the 2779 sample farmers, except for the degree of "full specialization" of grain, which is 25.1%, the proportion of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and aquatic products is only 5%, 1.6%, 0.6%, and 0.7%, respectively. The second is the lack of participation in vertical division of labor. In the production and operation of the plantation industry, the farmers' productive socialized services for different production links are still mainly self-sufficient.

In general, the production of peasant households presents the characteristics of small-scale farmers with “small but complete” diversified production. Insufficient division of labor will inevitably lead to high production costs and low efficiency.

Difficulties: Land Cost

The reduction of agricultural material costs depends on the deepening of agricultural division of labor, and the circuitous investment induced by division of labor can alleviate labor over-costs through the substitution of capital for labor. The problem is that the division of labor is constrained by the size of the agricultural production service market. Therefore, the transfer of agricultural land and its rental costs will become the short board of the short board.

1. Endowment effect

Attention to land costs requires attention to the property rights of agricultural land.

First, own research has shown that land has dual functions of production materials and social security for farmers, so that land equalization has become a basic way of empowerment. 。 Empowerment comes from farmers' membership as a rural collective economic organization. As a result, farmland has become an irreplaceable "personalized property . " The "personalized property" of land is characterized by empowered identity (membership), legalization of right confirmation (contracting contract), long-term holding (long-term contracting right), and further enhancement due to right confirmation.

Second, the transfer of farmland management rights depends on the contractual rights of farmers. Without the membership of a collective economic organization, there is no right to contract, and without a right to operate, there is no right to operate. Therefore, stabilizing the land contractual relationship and maintaining it for a long time will strengthen farmers' "land ownership monopoly."

,必然地对象化到每块具体的土地上(表现为宗地的“四至”地界),土地经营权的流转也必然地表现为具体宗地使用权的让渡。 The third is the spatial definition and confirmation of the right to farmland contractual management , which must be objectified to each specific piece of land (represented by the "four to" boundary of the parcel), and the transfer of land management rights must also be expressed as specific Transfer of parcel use right. Therefore, for any subject that enters farmland management, the specific land contracted by the farmer naturally has the feature of “geographic monopoly of property rights”.

Therefore, membership rights, identity monopolies, and geographical monopolies will inevitably lead farmers to evaluate the importance of land. The point is that the confirmation of the right to farmland will induce farmers to have an illusion of the value of the land-that the value of "own" land is higher than that of others. Behavioral economics calls this the "allocation effect."

与得到某物品所愿意支付的金钱相比,个体出让该物品所要求得到的金钱,通常会更多。 The endowment effect is defined as: the amount of money an individual requires to transfer an item is usually more than the amount of money the individual is willing to pay. This means that once an item is owned, people tend to give it a higher value. Personalized property has a more significant exalted effect than alternative property. It should be said that in countries where human-land relations are tense, the endowment effect of peasant land transfer is especially so.


Chen Liangyu

The results of the questionnaire survey show that farmers are more inclined to transfer land to their relatives, friends and neighbors, accounting for 56.91% of all willing candidates. Not only that, the effect of peasants' enjoyment of land is also subject-dependent and presents a gradually increasing order of differentiation according to the order of "relatives, friends, neighbors, ordinary farmers, family farms, or large households-agricultural enterprises". It can be seen that the farmland circulation is not a pure factor market, but an emotional market with identity characteristics; the land circulation market is not a pure factor pricing market, but rather a relational "discriminatory" market.

2. Relational transactions and the issue of "empty contracts"

The endowment effect in land transfer and its differential order pattern mean that to promote the development of the land transfer market, it is necessary to consider not only the particularity of the human-land relationship in the rural society, but also to improve the standardization and contractualization of transfer transactions. Without considering the former, it will obviously be contrary to the psychological will of farmers; ignoring the latter, it is possible to isolate the actors with the ability to operate from agriculture, making it difficult to change the pattern of small-scale and decentralized agricultural operations, and it will be difficult for farmers to obtain land Property income.

The problem is that there is a wide range of relationship-type contracts and incomplete contracts in agricultural land transfer contracts.

,Hart and Moore的解释是:①世界充满不确定性,无法将未来的不确定性写进合约。 Regarding the incompleteness of the contract , Hart and Moore's explanation is: ① The world is full of uncertainty, and it is impossible to write future uncertainty into the contract. ② Even if some future situations can be expected, it is difficult to express them in a language agreed by both parties. ③ Even if it can be expressed in words, the third party cannot recognize its "original" meaning, so it is difficult to "rule".

How to solve the incomplete contract problem? Williamson's prescription is to implement "integration", that is, to reduce transaction costs and reduce opportunistic behavior through a governance structure that matches transaction costs. The advantage of integration is that "one family does not speak two words", which is to internalize contradictions in market transactions. But Hart found that "integration" does not eliminate opportunistic behavior after the fact. For example, investment in specific assets can easily lead to investors being locked up, locked up, and embarrassed.

”的概念--由于契约的不完全,导致契约中除了可以事前规定的具体权利外,还有很多权利是无法事前明确规定的,因而在所有权的基础上,还存在着一定的外部选择权,即剩余控制权。 Therefore, Grossman and Hart proposed the concept of " residual control right ". Due to the incompleteness of the contract, in addition to the specific rights that can be stipulated in advance, there are many rights that cannot be clearly stipulated in advance. There is also a certain amount of external options, that is, residual control rights. Hart and Moore. It is further believed that the "surplus" rights should be given to the party that is conducive to creating more "cooperative surplus", so as to achieve the optimal ownership structure that can maximize the total surplus under suboptimal conditions.

Observing the lease arrangements in China's agricultural land circulation may help to understand and deepen Hart's incomplete contract theory.

First, leasing farmland by farmers is the main mode of farmland transfer. ① This scenario can be envisaged: farmer A goes out to work, considering that wasteland will obviously damage the quality and value of farmland, so it is appropriate to sublet the farmland management right to B, because the lease can not only obtain rent, but also maintain the farm The arableness of the land. The key is the right to control farmland, which actually fell to B's hands. Because it is difficult to measure and evaluate the quality of agricultural land, and it is impossible to write the contract terms explicitly, it is clear that Farmer A will inevitably worry that Tenant B will consume excessive land resources. Under the household contract management system, A, who is a member of the village collective, has a “monopoly” position on the contractual rights to agricultural land, and thus has ultimate control over the agricultural land. In order to guarantee his rights, A is more likely not to sign a formal contract, or to determine an indefinite period, in order to facilitate the resumption of farmland after returning home at any time (the threat of exit). It can be seen that the general situation of farmland leasing is that the ultimate control right belongs to A and the on-site control right belongs to B. Under the premise of fixed rent, the remaining claim right belongs to B. Therefore, Hart paid attention to the distribution of residual control rights among different contracting entities, but did not consider the different dimensions of residual control rights and their structural problems.

Second, in general, the degree of completeness of a farm land lease is closely related to the length of the lease term. The more complete the terms of the contract, the more likely farmers are to sign a long-term lease. However, it is intriguing that the incomplete lease of farmland transfer and the continuous increase in the rate of transfer of farmland have become a co-existing phenomenon. On the one hand, the data of the Ministry of Agriculture shows that ② The turnover rate of household contracted arable land nationwide was 17.84% in 2011, 21.24% in 2012, 25.7% in 2013, and 31.36% in 2014. The overall situation is rapidly increasing; another On the one hand, the more common fact is that not only are there insignificant incomplete problems in farm land leases, but they are also manifested as a noticeable short-term, and appear to be "simplified" to exacerbate incompleteness. Not only that, we can further observe the "empty contract" phenomenon.

Fourth, the direction of effort: family management and division of labor economy

The solidification of the small-scale farmer pattern, as well as the suppression and distortion of farmland circulation caused by the farmers' endowment effect, are the keys to complementing the shortcomings. Does that mean changing the family business system? Is it necessary to enforce land concentration? Obviously not. The basic idea is how to promote the innovation of agricultural scale management and agricultural management methods and accelerate the construction of a new agricultural management system on the premise of maintaining the basic status of family management in agriculture.

We have a judgment: The "three-volume increase" and "three-volume rise" facing the agricultural supply side seem to be cost issues on the surface, so people always hope to make a fuss about the scale of farmland management. However, it should be realized that the economies of scale determined by the Chinese-land relationship are limited after all. Therefore, the focus must be on improving efficiency and reducing costs. Therefore, the core shortcoming of China's low agricultural efficiency is insufficient agricultural division of labor. Only the social division of labor can obtain the residual benefits of social division of labor.

For this reason, the theoretical hypotheses in two aspects are of particular concern.

First, the hypothesis about agricultural management organizations. In 1984, the China Rural Development Research Group wrote a book entitled "Systematic Review of Rural Economic Transformation." What is particularly impressive is the reasoning of the rationality of agricultural family management in this book-we call it the "family hypothesis" of agricultural management. Agricultural production is an activity that utilizes structured natural forces of life and then other natural forces. In agricultural activities, the use and extent of the use of any other natural force must be dominated, restricted, and constrained by the structure of natural forces of life. Because agricultural activities are a complex process of adapting life to life, and the information sent by this uninterrupted continuous process of life, not only the flow is extremely large, but also extremely irregular, which determines that the main body of agricultural operations must comply with the rhythm of life and biological needs. Instructions to respond sensitively and flexibly. The production uncertainty brought by this sensitivity and flexibility requires flexible information decision-making mechanisms. As a result, the flexible decision-making mechanism, the consciousness of behavioral response, and the incentive-compatible self-enforcement mechanism endogenous to family operations have given them natural rationality and unique organizational advantages in agricultural production activities.

Second, the hypothesis on agricultural division of labor. Adam Smith first discovered that the division of labor and professional development was the source of economic growth. He pointed out that "the greater increase in labor productivity and the greatest proficiency, skill, and judgment in the use of labor appear to be the result of division of labor." However, he emphasized in particular that "the main reason why the increase in agricultural labor productivity cannot keep up with the increase in labor productivity in the manufacturing industry may be that agriculture cannot adopt a complete division of labor system", thus revealing the reason why agricultural productivity lags behind the manufacturing industry. The point is that the deepening of the division of labor in agricultural production has a natural endogenous obstacle-this is the famous "Smith conjecture."

There is still a wide range of possibilities for household ownership. Among them, the transfer of management rights and the breakdown of management rights are two important aspects.

由家庭承包与土地均分引发的小规模、分散化及其低效率,使得农地流转集中以谋求规模经济,成为了主流文献以及现行政策主张的基本导向。 On the one hand, the small scale, decentralization, and inefficiency caused by household contracting and land sharing have made the transfer of agricultural land concentrated to seek economies of scale, which has become the basic guide for mainstream literature and current policy claims. The logical premise of the transfer of management rights is the assumption of heterogeneity among farmers. If the management rights of farmers with relatively weak agricultural operation capacity are transferred to the operating entities with comparative advantage, it will not only improve the efficiency of factor allocation, but also help to improve economies of scale.

:①如果经营权的流转局限于农户之间进行,普遍的情形将是“小农”的复制(日本与韩国的经验己经证明了这一图景),从而意味着政策目标的落空。 However, the problems are : ① If the transfer of management rights is limited to farmers, the general situation will be the replication of "small farmers" (the experience of Japan and South Korea has proven this picture), which means that the policy objectives Frustrated. ② If it is the withdrawal of the farmer's management right and transfer to other business entities, it means that the status of the family business entity is replaced, which will inevitably lead to the weakening of the basic agricultural management system, which implies political risks. ③ The transfer of farmer's management right is not only related to their on-farm management capabilities, but also to the possibility of off-farm employment and their emotional preferences for land, which implies social risks.

As mentioned earlier, farmland circulation is not a pure factor market, but a special market that includes geography, kinship, and relationships, and has its own special market logic.

,与经营权的整体运作不同,农业经营权的进一步细分,不仅为打破封闭的小农经营提供了基础,为农户以外其他新的主体进入农业提供了可能,而且为农业的家庭经营、规模经营与分工经济的融合拓展更是提供了广阔的空间。 On the other hand , unlike the overall operation of management rights, the further subdivision of agricultural management rights not only provides the basis for breaking closed small farmers, but also provides the possibility for other entities other than farmers to enter agriculture, as well as agricultural family management. The integration and expansion of scale operation and division of labor economy provide a broad space. As a result, the operation of family business can be varied. In a closed state or where transaction costs are high, self-sufficient family business is a kind of equilibrium; if farmers can effectively hire labor (including managers as "agents" and agricultural workers as "farmers"), And through the comparative advantage to induce a moderate concentration of agricultural land transfer, then family operations can be converted into large production households or family farms, thereby forming land-scale operations and internal divisions of labor, and further forming the corresponding labor transaction and pricing mechanism; if used as an intermediate The agricultural professional services of products have high transaction efficiency, so the family business involved in social division of labor, service outsourcing and circuitous investment of intermediate organizations, and the resulting economies of scale in agricultural services will become an inevitable trend.

It can be seen that from a single focus on the transfer of farmland management rights to seek scale operation, to shifting the property rights of the management right to promote the division of labor while shifting farmland, and to integrate the economy of scale of farmland and service economies of scale, should Basic directions for the transformation of agricultural operations.

To understand the nature of agricultural family management, two different research paths can be chosen.

可以采用科斯范式展开研究—为什么会有企业? The first is assuming that the family business is an "enterprise", which can be studied in the Coase paradigm—why are there enterprises? Because the market has transaction costs. Why doesn't the company produce everything? Because companies have organizational management costs. Family business can also adopt this research paradigm. However, existing research may have shortcomings: there are transaction costs in the market. Why do we have to replace them? Intermediate organizations, governments, and other entities are all possible alternative mechanisms. It can be seen that the dichotomy between enterprises and markets is problematic.

The second is to reveal the choice of behavioral subject from the characteristics of agricultural production and management. Different subjects have different comparative advantages, which can prove the irreplaceability and suitability of family management. The problem is that agricultural operations involve many contents and links. Therefore, from the perspective of division of labor and comparative advantage, part of the agricultural activities are delivered to the market for direct transactions (purchase services), or contract transactions (order generation) through intermediate organizations. Farming, agency, trusteeship and outsourcing, etc.), or integrated internal transactions through a consortium, there is the possibility of expanding the extension of family operations and sharing the economy of division of labor.

Therefore, the core of the future reform of China's agricultural supply side lies in:

The first is a clear and separate mechanism for subdividing property rights.

The second is to establish a division of labor and cooperation mechanism involving multiple agents.

The third is to form an effective intermediary organization for investment and roundabout transactions.

The copyright belongs to the original author.

Hui Sannong (gh_5d3be2c832b1)


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